The Tested channel on Youtube is a very cool channel run by former Mythbuster (yes, I know he's done a lot more than just Mythbusters, but that's what everyone knows him from) Adam Savage. This week, in celebration of National Week of Making, they've been running video essays from various makers.
Now these are very cool, and inspiring, but one of them kind of set me off a little. Here it is below.
Let me preface this by saying that what this woman is doing is fantastic. I'm glad that she loves coding, got into game design, and is encouraging more people to follow her path.
But, I have a huge issue with the idea that game testers, or testers in general, can't be makers. Now I'll admit, I'm a bit biased, what with being a tester for most of my career. But that's kind of the point. I'm a tester. I'm also a maker, specifically in the professional sense that she's talking about.
Okay, entry level game testing isn't much of a maker position. You're given a game, provided a series of test cases to execute, and if you have any decent amount of initiative, you'll soon be ad-hoc testing other areas when you have nothing assigned. However, anyone who can get past their first month in QA will quickly find that they're making things. It may just be bug reports at first. Then it moves into test cases, area test plans, and eventually test plans for an entire game!
Testers with coding aptitude often migrate to QA Engineering (like I did) where you're building entire small scale programs to solve problems encountered by other members of QA, and to automate some of the worst drudgework in testing. THAT'S MAKING!!!
One of the big tenets of the Maker community is having a curiosity for how things work. A lot of people talk about this manifesting for them in a fascination with taking things apart, and putting them back together again. Testers take things apart. We look for new ways to take things apart, new ways to combine things that developers haven't thought of yet, but that some user out there will.
Testers absolutely are makers, and I very much hope that this video doesn't discourage some brilliant future tester (who may go on from testing to be a fantastic game designer, programmer, artist, or any number of other paths for which QA provides an entry point) from going into the industry because "I guess testers are just consumer-grade controller monkeys."